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like a new-made haycock. She makes her hand hard with labour, and her heart soft with pity; and when winter evenings fall early, sitting at her merry wheel, she sings defiance to the giddy wheel of fortune. She doth all things with so sweet a grace, it seems ignorance will not suffer her to do ill, being her mind is to do well. She bestows her year's wages at next fair, and in choosing her garments counts no bravery in the world like decency. The garden and bee-hive are all her physic and surgery, and she lives the longer for it. She dares go alone, and unfold sheep in the night, and fears no manner of ill, because she means none; yet, to say truth, she is never alone, but is still accompanied with old songs, honest thoughts and prayers, but short ones; yet they have their efficacy in that they are not palled with ensuing idle cogitations. Lastly, her dreams are so chaste that she dare tell them; only a Friday's dream is all her superstition; that she conceals for fear of anger. Thus lives she; and all her care is, she may die in the spring-time, to have store of flowers stuck upon her winding-sheet.
A NOBLE SPIRIT
Hath surveyed and fortified his disposition, and converts all occurrences into experience, between which experience and his reason there is marriage, the issue are his actions. He circuits his intents, and seeth the end before he shoots. Men are the instruments of his art, and there is no man without his use ; occasion incites him, none exciteth him, and he moves by affection, not for affection; he loves glory, scorns shame, and governeth and obeyeth with one countenance, for it comes from one consideration. He calls not the variety of the world chances, for his meditation hath travelled over them, and his eyes, mounted upon his understanding, seeth them as things underneath, He covers not his body with delicacies, nor excuseth these delicacies by his body, but teacheth it, since it is not able to defend its own imbecility, to show or suffer. He licenseth not his weakness to wear fate, but, knowing reason to be no idle gift of nature, he is the steersman of his own destiny. Truth is his goddess, and he takes pains to get her, not to look like her; he knows the condition of the world, that he must act one thing like another, and then another; to these he carries his desires, and not his desires him, and sticks not fast by the way, (for that contentment is repentance,) but knowing the circle of all courses, of all intents, of all things, to have
but one centre or period, without all distraction he hasteth thither, and ends there as his true natural element. He doth not contemn fortune, but not confess her; he is no gamester of the world, (which only complain and praise her,) but, being only sensible of the honesty of actions, contemns a particular profit as the excrement or scum. Unto the society of men he is a sun, whose clearness directs their steps in a regular motion. When he is more particular, he is the wise man's friend, the example of the indifferent, the medicine of the vicious. Thus time goeth not from him, but with him, and he feels age more by the strength of his soul than the weakness of his body. Thus feels he no pain, but esteems all such things as friends, that desire to file off his fetters, and help him out of prison.
A NOBLE AND RETIRED HOUSEKEEPER
Is one whose bounty is limited by reason, not ostentation; and, to make it last, he deals it discreetly as we sow the furrow, not by the sack, but by the handful. His word and his meaning never shake hands and part, but always go together. He can survey and love it, for he loves to do it himself, for its own sake, not for thanks. He knows there is no such misery as to outlive a good name, nor no such folly as to put it in practice. His mind is so secure, that thunder rocks him to sleep, which breaks other men's slumbers; nobility lightens in his eyes, and in his face and gesture is painted the God of hospitality. His great houses bear in their front more durance than state, unless this add the greater state to them, that they promise to outlast much of our new fantastical building. His heart grows old no more than his memory, whether at his book, or on horseback: he passes his time in such noble exercise ; a man cannot say any time is lost by him, nor hath be only years to approve he hath lived till he be old, but virtues. His thoughts have a high aim, though their dwelling be in the vale of an humble heart, whence, as by an engine (that raises water to fall, that it may rise higher) he is heightened in his humility. The adamant serves not for all seas, but his doth, for he hath, as it were, put a gird about the whole world, and sounded all her quicksands. He hath his hand over fortune, that her injuries, how violent or sudden soever, do not haunt him; for, whether his time call him to live or die, he can do both nobly; if to fall, his descent is breast to breast with virtue, and even then, like the sun near his set, he shows unto the world his clearest countenance.
His outside is an ancient yeoman of England, though his inside may give arms (with the best gentleman) and never see the herald. There is no truer servant in the house than himself. Though he be master, he says not to his servants, go to field, but let us go ; and with his own eye doth both fatten his flock, and set forward all manner of husbandry. He is taught by nature to be contented with a little; his own fold yields him both food and raiment, he is pleased with any nourish. ment God sends, whilst curious gluttony ransacks, as it were, Noah's ark for food, only to feed the riot of one meal. He is never known to go to law; understanding to be law-bound among men is like to be hide-bound among his beasts; they thrive not under it, and that such men sleep as unquietly, as if their pillows were stuffed with lawyers' penknives. When he builds, no poor tenant's cottage hinders his prospect; they are, indeed, his alms-houses, though there be painted on them no such superscription. He never sits up late, but when he hunts the badger, the vowed foe of his lambs; nor uses he any cruelty, but when he hunts the hare; nor subtilty, but when he setteth snares for the snipe, or pitfalls for the blackbird ; nor oppression, but when in the month of July he goes to the next river and shears his sheep. He allows of honest pastime, and thinks not the bones of the dead any thing bruised, or the worse for it, though the country lasses dance in the churchyard after even-song. Rock-Monday, and the wake in summer, shrovings, the wakeful catches on Christmas-eve, the hokey, or seed-cake, these he yearly keeps, yet holds them no relics of popery. He is not so inquisitive after news derived from the privy closet, when the finding an eyry of hawks in his own ground, or the foaling of a colt come of a good strain, are tidings more pleasant and more profitable. He is lord paramount within himself, though he hold by never so mean a tenure, and dies the more contentedly, (though he leave his heir young) in regard he leaves him not liable to a covetous guardian. Lastly, to end him, he cares not when his end comes; he needs not fear his audit, for his quietus is in heaven..
179.-WHAT IS A POET?
WORDSWORTH. TAKING up the subject upon general grounds, I ask what is meant by the word Poet? What is a Poet? To whom does he address himself? And what language is to be expected from him? He is a man speaking to men: a man, it is true, endued with more lively sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness, who has a greater knowledge of human nature, and a more comprehensive soul, than are supposed to be common among mankind; a man pleased with his own passions and volitions, and who rejoices more than other men in the spirit of life that is in him; delighting to contemplate similar volitions and passions as manifested in the goings on of the universe, and habitually impelled to create them where he does not find them. To these qualities he has added a disposition to be affected more than other men by absent things as if they were present; an ability of conjuring up in himself passions, which are indeed far from being the same as those produced by real events, yet (especially in those parts of the general sympathy which are pleasing and delightful) do more nearly resemble the passions produced by real events, than any thing which, from the motions of their own minds merely, other men are accustomed to feel in themselves; whence, and from practice, he has acquired a greater readiness and power in expressing what he thinks and feels, and especially those thoughts and feelings which, by his own choice, or from the structure of his own mind, arise in him without immediate external excitement.
But, whatever portion of this faculty we may suppose even the greatest poet to possess, there cannot be a doubt but that the language which it will suggest to him must, in liveliness and truth, fall far short of that which is uttered by men in real life, under the actual pressure of those passions, certain shadows of which the poet thus produces, or feels to be produced, in himself.
However exalted a notion we would wish to cherish of the character of a poet, it is obvious that, while he describes and imitates passions, his situation is altogether slavish and mechanical, compared with the freedom and power of real and substantial action and suffering. So
that it will be the wish of the poet to bring his feelings near to those of the persons whose feelings he describes, nay, for short spaces of time, perhaps, to let himself slip into an entire delusion, and even confound and identify his own feelings with theirs; modifying only the language which is thus suggested to him by a consideration that he describes for a particular purpose, that of giving pleasure. Here, then, he will apply the principle on which I have so much insisted, namely, that of selection; on this he will depend for removing what would otherwise be painful or disgusting in the passion; he will feel that there is no necessity to trick out or elevate nature; and, the more industriously he applies this principle, the deeper will be his faith that no words, which his fancy or imagination can suggest, will bear to be compared with those which are the emanations of reality and truth.
But it may be said by those who do not object to the general spirit of these remarks, that, as it is impossible for the poet to produce upon all occasions language as exquisitely fitted for the passion as that which the real passion itself suggests, it is proper that he should consider himself as in the situation of a translator, who deems himself justified when he substitutes excellences of another kind for those which are unattainable by him; and endeavours occasionally to surpass his original, in order to make some amends for the general inferiority to which he feels that he must submit. But this would be to encourage idleness and unmanly despair. Further, it is the language of men who speak of what they do not understand; who talk of poetry as of a matter of amusement and idle pleasure; who will converse with us as gravely about a taste for poetry, as they express it, as if it were a thing as indifferent as a taste for rope-dancing, or Frontignac, or Sherry. Aristotle, I have been told, hath said, that poetry is the most philosophic of all writing: it is so: its object is truth, not individual and local, but general, and operative; not standing upon external testimony, but carried alive into the heart by passion; truth which is its own testimony, which gives strength and divinity to the tribunal to which it appeals, and receives them from the same tribunal. Poetry is the image of man and nature. The obstacles which stand in the way of the fidelity of the biographer and historian, and of their consequent utility, are incalculably greater than those which are to be encountered by the poet who has an adequate notion of the dignity of his art. The poet writes under one restriction only, namely, that of the necessity of